It’s been 10 years since the nation sat, transfixed, as a homemade balloon floated miles and miles over Colorado, purportedly with 6-year-old Falcon Heene (a.k.a. “Balloon Boy”) along for the ride.
Though already bizarre, the story would only get stranger as it was revealed that not only was the young boy not inside the balloon, but he never had been, and was camped out in his family’s attic instead.
The incident was deemed a hoax by authorities — and Richard Heene and wife Mayumi served jail time after pleading guilty to related charges — but the family still insists a decade on that Falcon’s flight was no lie, and that they truly feared their son was inside the flying saucer.
“This is another hit piece, which I anticipated,” Richard said on Good Morning America. “What would be nice is if the media could actually go, ‘Yeah, Richard’s got a point.’ But it’s so biased.”
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The father of three continued, telling the outlet that the headline-grabbing incident resulted in many a missed opportunity over the years for the inventor.
“I’ve lost a lot of opportunities. I’ve had people contact me about things I’ve invented and [it] went south because they find out who I am,” Richard said. “And the thing that gets me is the media never tells my side of the story.”
The Heene family was accused at the time of staging the incident as a means of achieving fame, a theory pushed along by the fact that they’d once appeared on the reality TV series Wife Swap.
A confession by Mayumi bolstered claims that they’d made the whole thing up, though she told GMA that she only made her confession out of fear that she’d be deported back to Japan.
“I thought I’m going to be deported, then I won’t see my husband or kids, I won’t be able to see them,” she said of sons Falcon, Ryo and Bradford.
Now 16, Falcon has come a long way since his 15 minutes of fame: he’s all grown up with hair down to his waist and is the lead singer in a heavy metal rock band he formed with his brothers.
The trio — who once released a song titled “Balloon Boy No Hoax” — now fix houses with Richard in Florida, and are more than happy to put their time in the spotlight behind them.
“We don’t really want to associate ourselves with that,” Bradford told GMA. “We just want to rock out.”